Zambia U17 twice surrendered their lead when they allowed University of California to come from behind and beat them 3 – 2 in an entertaining game played at the University grounds this morning. The game, the second preparatory match for the World Cup bound squad, was played at high tempo with the Zambian lasses drawing first blood when Varsity goalkeeper Maddie Julian failed to handle a Ireen Lungu grass cutter in the 40th minute. The goal came barely 10 minutes after Zambia had rattled the woodwork at half hour mark.
Using the traditional 4 – 4 -2 formation, Zambia stifled their opponents who currently campaign in the 1st Division of the PAC league. The varsity team, whose former player is international Alex Morgan (current strike partner of Abby Womba in the US national team), was more aggressive on resumption after making several tactical changes including the introduction of experienced duo – Nigerian born Ife Onumonu and her partner Grace Leer who used their physique to subdue the Zambian central defence partnership.
Barely 10 minutes into the second half, Onumonu drew level with a sweetly struck low drive that gave the Zambian goal minder, Hazel Nali, no chance. Zambian’s response was immediate with relentless attack, and again the woodwork denied Zambia, the deserved second goal. In the 80th minute Grace Chanda scored a scorcher to restore Zambia’s lead and with the game seemly destined to end in Zambia’s favour, laxity by the defenders allowed the unmarked Leer at the far post to tap in to restore parity. Deep into added time, a mix up between Martha Tembo and substitute Goalkeeper Musole Ngambo gifted Omununu with another goal to complete her brace for the day and condemn Zambia to a second loss in as many games.
Coach Kachinga expressed satisfaction with the overall performance especially that the team was able to replicate the resilience and tenacity that helped them beat South Africa and book a place to the World Cup.